post written by: Marc Chernoff

10 Harsh Realities that Help You Grow

10 Harsh Realities that Help You Grow

All the world is full of suffering.  It is also full of overcoming.
—Helen Keller

Character and wisdom are sculpted over time.  They come with loss, lessons, and triumphs.  They come after doubts, second guesses, and exploring unknowns.  If there were a definitive path to happiness and success, everyone would be on it.  The seeds of your progress are planted in your past failures.  Your best stories will come from overcoming your greatest struggles.  Your praises will be birthed from your pains.  So keep standing, keep learning, and keep living.

Over the past decade Angel and I have dealt with several severe hardships, including the sudden death of a sibling, the loss of a best friend to illness, betrayal from a business partner, and an unexpected breadwinning employment layoff.  These experiences were brutal.  Each of them, unsurprisingly, knocked us down and kept us down for a while.  But when our time of mourning was over after each tragedy, we pressed forward, stronger, and with a greater understanding and respect for life.

So my challenge to you today is this:  Start looking at life’s harsh realities and toughest challenges as friends that are going to help you grow.

Here are some thoughts to consider…

1.  The first step is never easy.

The beginnings to good things are always the hardest, but it’s these hard times that pave the path to greatness.  Be strong and keep the faith.  It will be worth it in the end.  The greatest miracle of your success in life will not be that you finished, it will be that you found the strength and courage to begin.

And remember, it’s not that those who are strong never get weak in the knees, or that they never hold their breath before they embark…  It’s that while their knees are shaking, they force themselves to breathe and take the first step.

2.  Good things rarely come quick and easy.

Life is not easy, but it’s worth it.  If you expect it to be, you will perpetually disappoint yourself.  Achieving anything worthwhile in life takes time and effort.  You must align your efforts with your goals and then start every day ready to run farther than you did yesterday and fight harder than you ever have before.

Persistence is the single most common characteristic of high achievers.  They simply refuse to give up.  The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favor.  Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration.  No matter how hard it seems, the more you persist, the more likely your success.  (Read The Last Lecture.)

3.  You will always have less control than you desire.

The only thing you can absolutely control in life is how you react to things out of your control, and there’s a lot you can’t control.  The better you adapt to this reality, the more powerful your highs will be, and the more quickly you’ll be able to bounce back from the lows.  Put most simply: Living a happy, fulfilling life means being in a state of complete acceptance of all that is, right here, right now.

As your life unfolds, you will often realize that many of the times you thought you were being rejected from something good, you were in fact being redirected to something better.  You don’t have to control everything to find peace and happiness.  You just need to do your best, and then relax and have faith that things will work out.  Let go and just let life happen the way it’s supposed to.  Because sometimes the outcomes you can’t change end up changing you and helping you grow to your full potential.

4.  You cannot avoid risk without avoiding life.

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”

Living is a risk.  Happiness is a risk.  If you’re not a little scared sometimes, then you’re not doing it right.  Don’t worry about mistakes and failures, worry about what you’re giving up when you don’t even try.  Worry about the life you’re not living and the happiness you’re forgoing, as you merely exist in the safety of your comfort zone.  Give yourself permission to be one of the people who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them and grew into your truest self.

5.  Your biggest problems are often in your head.

The primary cause of unhappiness and defeat is never the current situation but your thoughts about it.  Happiness and success really comes down to two elements: the way you think and the way you act based upon your thoughts.

Human beings become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do great things, right now, without the need for anything more.  When you believe in yourself, you have realized the first secret of success.  Often finding your way is not about going somewhere new; it’s about seeing familiar ground in new ways.  Once you do, you will realize the only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

6.  Long-term happiness cannot be bought; it must be earned.

If you’d rather live surrounded by pristine objects of little significance than by the traces of happy, passionate memories, stay focused on acquiring tangible possessions.  Otherwise, stop fixating on things you can touch and start caring about the things that touch you.  Each of us has a unique fire in our heart for something that makes us feel alive.  It’s your duty to find it and keep it lit.

Whatever you do, don’t completely sacrifice your life for your livelihood.  Enjoy the gifts money can’t buy.  Promise yourself that you will stay true to your loves, your values, and your purpose.  Let your heart and mind work as one.  Do what it takes so that one day, many moons from now, you can look back at your life, take one final breath, and crack an honest smile.

7.  Not everyone will support you.

If you take every insult or rude slur of your fellow human beings personally, you will be offended for the rest of your life.  One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to agree with everyone, everyone doesn’t have to agree with us, and that’s OK.  As Bruce Lee once said, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”  Live by this quote.  Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget it.

It takes a long time to learn how to NOT judge yourself through someone else’s eyes, but once you do the world is yours for the taking.  We have all been placed on this earth to discover our own life, and we will never be happy or successful if we try to live someone else’s idea of it.  So give up worrying too much about what others think of you.  Regardless of what they say about you and your chosen path, remember that the only approval you need in the end is your own.

8.  You are better off without some people you care about.

It’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you.  Notice who sticks around and who doesn’t, and be grateful to those who leave you, for they have given you the room to grow in the space they abandoned, and the awareness to appreciate the people who loved you when you didn’t feel lovable.

Bottom line:  Be okay with giving the gift of your absence to those who do not appreciate and respect your presence.

9.  You cannot have happiness without some sadness.

Chuck Palahniuk once said, “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  Some sadness is necessary.  Everything in life is two-sided.  You can’t expect to feel pleasure without ever feeling pain, joy without ever feeling sorrow, confidence without ever feeling fearful, hope without ever feeling uncertain, etc.  There is no such thing as a one-sided coin in life, with which you can buy a pain-free, trouble-free life.

Life is a series of highs and lows – an adventure that requires you to take chances and actions that have the possibility of both success (happiness) and failure (sadness).  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

10.  What’s done is done, but life goes on.

If you are carrying strong emotions about something that happened in your past, they may hinder your ability to live productively in the present.  With everything that has happened, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift of knowledge.  Everything is either an opportunity to learn and grow or an obstacle that keeps you stuck.  You get to choose.

Take a deep breath.  It’s going to be OK… maybe not today, but eventually.  There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.  You might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t.  Sure the sun stops shining sometimes, and you may get a huge thunderstorm or two, but eventually the sun will come out to shine.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of us staying as positive as possible in order to make it to see the sunshine break through the clouds again.

Your turn…

What would you add to this post?  What’s one harsh reality you’ve had to face, or hardship you’ve had to deal with, that helped you grow?  Please leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Trey Ratcliff

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  • You guys are so refreshing. I love reading your articles. They help me in so many ways, but right now I’m dealing with the loss of a close friend. It’s the way you articulate your thoughts that just resonates so well in my mind. You are helping me get through this sad time.

    Also, I just bought your book last week and I’m already loving it. I intend to place two more orders to give as holiday gifts. Thanks :)

  • I have been going through some very hard times lately. I found your site yesterday and have been reading it for several hours since, and I feel so much better. I can’t believe it, you two are very special and the help I have received here has bought me peace for today. Thank you Marc and Angel so much. I will take Benny’s advice and invest in myself by investing in your book now too.

  • On #1, I’d add that not only is the first step not easy….it all gets easier after that. There have been many things in my life I worried over for months (or years, even) before taking the first step, only to find out how much easier the thing was than I’d thought before I took the first step. Not necessarily easy, often still very hard, but not nearly as bad I had worked myself up into believing.

  • Hi Marc and Angel: thanks for today’s post. I have just lost my husband of 37 years and am trying to do as you suggest in this article—just let life happen. At times like this I visualize myself standing at the shore of the sea and standing still and firm allowing the waves to wash over me and seeing myself stand strong despite what life brings. Acceptance of life and what happens is difficult but the right way to deal with it, you shouldn’t run or work furiously to change the things you cannot change. I try to find the silver lining to the losses I’ve suffered and there are always some positives–dwell on those and move ahead.

  • “…one day, many moons from now, you can look back at your life, take one final breath, and crack an honest smile.”

    WOW, talk about hitting the mark, (Mark and Angel)! Yesterday after 10 long years of suffering from Alzheimer’s, we watched my mom take her last breath. Afterwards my sister remarked that, in her final repose, it looked like she had a small smile on her face. Thank you for this & all of your other wise & heartfelt posts. ~ Valerie

  • Maria Cristy Elizaga-Daguay
    November 18th, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I like what you write, and nothing is more true than Frederick S. Perls’ quote: “I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine, you are you, and i am me, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.” Thanks, this one reminded me of who and what truly matters in life.

  • I’d add that the toughest times in your life are what make you stronger and although they make you feel weak, when you realize you made it through to the other side, you will find strength in knowing you rocked at that situation and it will never happen to you again. Your experiences are where you should find your strength to move you forward…Thanks y’all for your amazing articles. You guys are wonderful!

  • Taking complete responsibility for my life is still difficult, but completely necessary. My thoughts and the steps I choose to take as a result of those thoughts are not a result of what others think, do, say, or believe– I have the control to react however I decide. I have spent a lot of time blaming my failures on lack of support from others, bullying, personal health, and abuse that occurred decades ago. Today, my life is great and the only thing hindering me are bad habits of negative thinking.

  • #2, 3, 5, 8 & 10.

    #2, I know good things rarely come quick and easy, but jeez, I’m so tired of the struggle and my confidence has taken a lot of hard hits. I still don’t have my mojo back from the last setback, and I don’t trust my instincts (which used to be really strong) or even my path anymore. So I guess I’d add keeping the faith and trusting things to work out eventually, and hoping like hell you’re not completely delusional chasing rainbows. Seriously, what the hell am I thinking trying to be a screenwriter or a businesswoman? It’s insane.

    #3, I’m a complete control freak when it comes to “my babies” and get very emotionally attached to my projects, so letting go and trusting others not to fuck them up is something I’ve been a complete failure at so far. I don’t know yet if it’s because I just didn’t have the right “others” involved or if it’s a serious character flaw on my part, but I’m hoping I figure it out before I try to collaborate on another project and screw it up again.

    #5, self-flagellation has deep roots in my psyche and I have to make a conscious effort every day to overcome it. The hit to my confidence isn’t helping. Starting over and regrouping isn’t helping. Telling myself “You can do this” feels like a lie. All I can do is just keep going through the motions moving forward, hoping at some point I believe in it again.

    #8, I know in time it will feel like a blessing, and it has definitely made me appreciate and respect the people I’ve been taking for granted who stuck with me anyway, but I hate the waste of so much potential. I’m looking forward to the day when it doesn’t matter to me.

    #10, So true. Must. Bully. My. Brain. Into. This. Mindset.

    The only thing I’d add is to not let fear, anxiety and insecurity sabotage the strides you’ve already made. I tend to do this the moment I get something I want or somewhere I want to be, or just really close to it. It’s like I get so used to the striving and struggling, I’m lost without the challenge and don’t know what to do next. Seriously, I’m a freaking basket case. It’s ridiculous. I’ve screwed up so many great opportunities because of this, it’s impossible to tell myself it was for the best. Mostly, it’s because I was an idiot.

    Thank you for this. I really needed it this morning. I’m printing this list and sharing it.


  • What a great way to start out my week! Thank you for this uplifting reminder to focus on the right path, to allow the self doubting, the pain, and the remorse to flow out while embracing the now.

    Great big hugs to everyone out there that is going through tough times - you are not alone, I am not alone.

  • Life is a marathon not a sprint if you live long enough, with many hurdles and obstacles along the way. I read that many years ago and how true are those words? It’s how we get over the hurdles that matter if we want to win the race, isn’t it?

    I’m sixty next year and have experienced lots of ups and downs along the way, bereavement, relationship break-ups, time in prison, and long spells of unemployment. I used to drink a lot and get into fights, which led to prison on four occasions, but have been out of trouble for twenty years. I turned my life around because I wanted to and if I didn’t I know deep down I wouldn’t be here today. This article resonates with me because looking back I was angry with life, but now I’m calmer and more mature in my thinking life isn’t as bad as I once made it out to be.

    So I’d add to this article: stop being angry with people and life, because anger has a knack of coming back to you and you end up the loser.

  • This is one of my favorite life hacks articles. 8, 9 & 10 are so relevant to me! Thanks guys :)

  • A harsh awakening for me, many years ago, was the realization that my happiness was not anyone else’s responsibility. Once I let go of expecting someone else to make me happy, I could own my own happiness and start living for me. It wasn’t easy, but now that I embrace the responsibility of making myself happy I would not want it any other way!

  • Great points Marc, thank you… #2 & #5 resonate with me the most and I would add You’re Not Who You Think You Are to your list.

    Developing a relationship with my Higher Self allows me to tap into the strength of love - even when the going gets tough, the power of surrendering to God’s will always gets me through the night feeling stronger, sharper and more determined to go beyond current circumstances.

  • Thank you for all of your uplifting thoughts and messages. I always find something that is so pertinent to me in my journey.

    After working with a therapist for a couple of years, doing childhood work, she is closing her private practice. She became the mother figure I never had growing up - someone to parent me, nurture me, guide me - someone I trust with my whole heart and someone I could tell anything to. I am heartbroken that I won’t have this connection anymore. She has given me many “tools” to use, but the emotional “break-up” is most difficult….it feels like childhood abandonment all over again, except that I am in my 60’s. I have a difficult time with all the losses in my life, especially people I truly love. There is no family support - difficult relationships.

    Thank you for all of your insight and wisdom.

  • Love number 4! You guys are stars! This is what life is all about - if you are not freaked sometimes, you are not striving for your success and happiness! Love you all!

  • Great post as ALWAYS! Thank you. I needed to hear every one of these suggestions.

  • Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I am learning, more and more to live within the spaces of life and there is such calmness here.

    One thing I would add is that it’s okay to not know and to not have the answers. After a crisis or disappointment the first thing people will often say is “What are you going to do?” They want a clear answer when sometimes one is not ready yet. Some of the most wonderful starts in my life came from not knowing and not being afraid to say so.

  • Marc & Angel, you will never know how much I look forward to receiving your emails. They are so very inspirational and uplift the spirit. I now share them with my son & daughter and they enjoy them as much as I do.

    I have already put into practice some of your comments in my life. Especially #8. I had cut those who I care about deeply out of my life - father and siblings. It hurt, but it was for my own mental sanity. Now I depend and support those who support and depend on me. My significant other, my children and my grandchildren. We are all much more happier and although we struggle, we have our heartfelt love to pull us through.

    I just want to sincerely thank you both again for the wonderful articles!

  • I look forward to reading your inspirational & motivational words. You can never spread enough good words, reminders that we are not alone, that we are the masters of our thoughts and that each day is a gift. Find the good in each situation.

    Choose not to be a victim of circumstance, but learn from it, grow, and spread the goodness…

    Thank you or sharing these empowering reflections.
    Ann Marie :)

  • I’ve been following your blog for the last year. I do a lot of self help and healing mindfulness techniques, but you and Angel never cease to amaze me. What I mean by that, is there are MANY different gurus that I follow from Mastin Kipp, to Gabrielle Bernstein, to Oprah, to Deepak, to Martha Beck, Marianne Williamson, etc. The information is out there for us to find, to absorb, but yet, somehow you all find different ways to describe and interpret this information to us over and over again. I don’t know how you do it and continue to post these mindful exercises with a different twist on them every time, but I hope you will continue to do so and continue to inspire us. Thank you!

  • Great Post!

    I can relate to pretty much all of these because i’ve been unemployed for a year now and feel like nobody is supporting me.

    I’m really fortunate to have a supportive family who have always been there for me throughout these difficult times.

    And it’s taught me who really cares about my life and who doesn’t. The people who you thought were friends were only there for their own selfish reasons and not because they genuinely cared.

    All harsh lessons that you tend to learn during tough times.

  • The loss of a beloved mother in law and shortly after two miscarriages, all with in the same year, with the knowledge that my husband and I may face the possibility of not being able to have children together. I know I must have faith and believe and be strong to move forward regardless on how afraid I am to know what our test results will be. My husband shared this post with me and it made me realize I have to be happy and learn and grow. I often feel uncertainty but I will keep this post and read it and retread it as much as I have to, to keep myself going. Thank you for sharing the wisdoms of what you and I’m sure others have shared for many years.

  • I can’t believe I just read things I’m going through right now. I recently became homeless. Working every day but somehow I got behind on my bills and I couldn’t catch up. I moved in with a cousin to save money for a place. I did a lot of overtime to get enough money to move and the week I was suppose to move, my car was stolen. I got my car back but had to make a choice to fix the car the thieves destroyed or move. I had to fix the car, but my cousin wouldn’t give me extra time to live with her, and then my sister and brother turned me down. I will keep my faith and no that things will get better. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • One harsh reality that I’ve had to deal with recently is that you can’t change the past no matter how much you want to (#10).

    I guess the positive is that it came as a realization that although I’ve worked hard on changing, that doesn’t mean I earn forgiveness for what I’ve done. If someone else doesn’t forgive me, there’s nothing I can do no matter how “good” I become. I can never go back and change what I did and I can never make them forgive me no matter how sorry I am. I just have to live with it, let it go, and move on.

  • The first time you face fear is always the hardest, but once you walk through it and taste the pain and the rewards, it makes things slightly easier and easier the more you confront it.

    This morning I was in the shower tapping about my 12-yr old son. He doesn’t live with me because I am divorced, and I didn’t give him the support he needed when the divorce was at its worst. I was tapping because I need to learn to forgive myself, learn from my mistakes, accept the past as the past and move forward as a better father. I will be a better father because I have learned from my mistakes and am trying to accept that divorce is difficult and its not my fault that I didn’t know how to behave. At least now I can help others.

    Thanks for helping me.


  • You guys are amazing, I love to read your emails every week. I also save them and go back to read them again when I’m struggling with an issue. Love what you have to say; it has so much meaning and really hits your heart. So glad I came across your website! Thank you so much.

  • Paul, I don’t know what you did or what happened or anything, but I do know that someone else forgiving you or not forgiving you is their problem, not yours. Their forgiveness isn’t something you’re supposed to “earn.” Doing what you can to make it right, getting yourself in a better place, healthier emotionally and physically, and especially forgiving yourself is what you do for yourself and your own well-being, not for someone else because they demand or expect it. The ones who matter have most likely already forgiven you and are just happy you’re in a better place. The ones who hold it over your head like a weapon to use against you or control or manipulate you are toxic, and you should run in the other direction asap.

  • I’m blown away by every article I read here. Thank you for this inspirational reality check.

  • Age 55, stricken with skin cancer, losing my job and becoming homeless. All within this year. The cancer was removed (thankfully, by a wonderful surgeon who is taking payments), the job loss forced me to end a lifelong career that I despised (except for the money) - and becoming homeless for the first time in my life has taught me that I can’t EVER take primary needs for granted - that I must stay vigilant moving forward. (I am staying with an elderly woman and taking care of her until she passes). This has all helped me gain perspective on time and forced me to start my book - I am four chapters in and writing strong. Each day I remind myself that it may be the last, so time is of the essence in getting my precious words out - as my gift to the world.

  • This really moved my emotions and made me feel stronger than ever before.


  • This post is absolutely awesome!!! Well done… I love reading your posts. Thank you so much.

  • How do we start moving on? I am in love, or thought I was. It was my first time. I walked away because he took too long. He was hurt, but he moved on earlier than me. I am still hurt. How do I move on now? When he is the first thing on my mind when I wake up, and when I close my eyes to sleep? When he used to be the greatest joy in my life, but he remains as a tremendous pain? What do I do now?

  • Once again, thank you for a brilliant article, always thought provoking :)

  • One of the tough realities that I have had to face in my life a combination of your #7 and #8.

    I have had some people in my life in the past that I cared for that both would not support me and my dreams, would subtly undermine my decisions (probably unintentionally) and who were just not good for me.

    Letting go of anyone you care about is a tough task, but it is an important one.

    Harsh realities like these suck, but when you face them, they can really help you grow.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • This post sums up many of the conversations that I have had recently with both friends and clients. The power of letting the need to control go and the connection to one’s values are paramount to really being truly happy.

    Thank you for this GEM!

  • Thank you for bringing hope and light to others, I believe you have found God’s purpose of your life. To encourage the weak, and to uplift the spirit of the broken. Thank you for the blog post.

  • Wow.
    Number 10 stings. It is 100% the truth, and very wise words to live by. I’ve read it about 10 times this morning but why is it so much easier said than done.

    This is such an amazing website and i’m so glad to be able to have such a push from only words to make me realize I can do it.

  • Thanks for this. It was just the reminder I needed to bolster myself for another day! You are so inspirational!

  • The best things in life take the longest time to accomplish–unique strokes of genius aren’t but as common as a volcano erupting. (That analogy was a bit of a stretch, I know) I just read an article about keeping the underdog mentality and I think that it coincides with this topic quite nicely.

  • The dark side of Love is loss, and if you live long enough, you will experience the agony of losing someone you love. But once the pain settles down, you realize it was all worth it. And you even love again.

  • I would say that the first step is the most important one as well, like that’s the first thing you have to do in order to go anywhere in life. You have to make the first step than go out of your comfort zone and do whatever you need to do to get what you have to :)

  • Great thoughts, well thought out. I would add one that my grandfather use to say: “Surround yourself with the people you want to become.”

  • Bottom line: Be okay with giving the gift of your absence to those who do not appreciate and respect your presence.

    Absolutely brilliant! Wish I had this a few years ago when I fought so hard to be part of my stepchildren’s lives.

  • I would add that Happiness is not ours to give someone else. I think too often we feel responsible for the happiness of those around us. I believe we must create a positive, loving, and supportive environment for everyone around us. But in the end, we can’t make someone else happy. We can only allow them to be happy. In the end, it’s their choice.

  • @Melissa Webster: You have so much going for you. I challenge you to take one of these harsh realities and focus on the positive. The last of your freedom is to choose your attitude in any given circumstance. Choose to be happy and positive. It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere.

    Great advice to Paul! =)

    @Linda: Some people aren’t meant to stay in your life. Some people are just passing through to bring you something – perhaps a lesson you need to learn, or memory that makes you smile years later. When the time comes, it’s okay to let go and move on with your life.

    @Katie Marek: You will never realize your true strength until being strong is your only option left. Until you are broken, you won’t know what you’re truly made of. Pain doesn’t just show up in your life for no reason. It’s a sign that something needs to change – it’s a wake-up call that guides you toward a better future. So keep your heart open to dreams, and make that change. For as long as there is a dream and positive action, there is hope; and as long as there is hope, there is joy in living.

    @Paul Smithberger: When you forgive yourself, and stop the inner imprisonment, you create the love of your life. Stop asking for forgiveness and give yourself permission to forgive yourself.

    @Bunga: To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, everything you once had, and the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s changes, to trust your intuition, to learn as you go, to realize that every experience has value, and to continue taking positive steps forward.

    @All: We loved reading all your personal stories of struggle and strength to preserve. Keep moving forward! You continue to inspire us. In fact, this community is a fantastic reminder that we are not alone. I resonate with many of your life experiences. As always, thank you for the love and support! Big hugs from Angel and I. =)

  • My biggest challenge is self-expression. It’s a development I’ve already come a long way in, but it’s a long winding road. I feel that when I truly master this aspect of life, all of the harsh realities of being broke and the absence of romance will start to evaporate in a world of abundance.

    Then there’s also no more question of what I should be doing. For the last months I’ve been trying to cover up my passions by going for a ’sure thing’, but I only kept failing at it. The ego-centered way to think would be to say that I just have to keep going, but I’m getting the feeling that the universe just isn’t willing to settle for me doing anything else than what I was meant to do. I believe that when we see the difference between ego-driven action and purpose-driven action, everything becomes way clearer.

  • Very well said: “Living a happy, fulfilling life means being in a state of complete acceptance of all that is, right here, right now.”

  • Thanks for these words and advice. We all need to know suffering in this world is never in vain. I’ve always said what doesn’t kills you makes you stronger.

    Ive had and still had serious health problem and 4 brain surgeries the last year and see my health problem is now incurable. There is nothing worse knowing your body and health will never recover.

    Knowing that accepting it is the hardest thing one can ever do. But I’ve done it thanks to having a positive attitude. In the end what Ive learned is we are all here for a very short time and so you have to make the best of it. Each day matters. In the end your body dies but your mind and spirit live on eternally in your works of love. My special needs son and my writing are my works of my heart and the joy knowing I may perish but giving all my energy, care, and love to the things that are closely tied to my heart’s desire in this world brings me tremendous joy and infinite hope. I hope we all give thought to focusing all our energy to works of love. In that way when its your time to leave this world you enjoyed the race to the end knowing your works live on after you are gone.

  • Great article. The one I would add is…
    #11. You can care for some people and still not be able to be around them. There are some relationships that may be grounded in history or former experiences that eventually don’t fit with the way you’ve grown. You may still care for a person in your life but just know it isn’t good to spend too much time with him or her. And that’s ok.

  • Such great thoughts here. Thank you so much.

    My number 11 would be: Some dreams have to come true when you are young. If you just decided you wanted to be a ballet dancer, or a world class baseball player at 33, chances are….yeah.

    My number 12, on the same note: If you are choosing between two dreams, go with one, and push for it forever! Happy is the man who has one, as opposed to the man who tried for both and got nothing.

  • Everyone will hurt you…
    You just have to decide who is worth the pain.
    (Bob Marley)

  • Such great thoughts here. Once again, thanks for these words and advice. We all need to know that suffering in this world is never in vain. I’ve always said what doesn’t kills you makes you stronger.

  • Until you have learnt to own your power and take responsibility for your experience of life, you will not be happy sharing your life with someone else. You cannot love another until you really do love yourself.

  • Trust & Betrayal.

    I find it difficult to confide with people I thought would be there for me. Especially my parents. They’ve always brought great anxieties every time I was with them. I felt so guilty at first, staying away. I denied my own feelings, because they were my parents. So much conflicting values when I was growing up … life went on. Got married had my own Kids. But, the anxiety remained … and anger followed. Father punishes without one iota of explanation. I realized he had his own problem. Mother, is in denial on how she treated me. I sat down with her and spoke to her about this. but, she continues her insensitivity and in facebook, I’m not in facebook, but she’ll call me and tell me what people are saying, I just tell her I’m in great health thank you …. I love them, but distance allowed me to breathe and think about my own … Thank You for sharing these inspirational messages.

  • I love you guys…whenever I feel sad I look up to your posts and it really lifts my spirit! All my good wishes and blessings with you guys… Keep up the good work. You are doing wonders! A big thank you and hug! :)

  • “Comparing yourself to others will never do you any good.” and/or ” We don’t always have enough time.”

    We can never deny to ourselves that there are people we look up to and there are these icons that make you go, “When I grow up, I want to be like ____.” However, we should acknowledge our own gifts and that we should never let an opportunity pass us by in making good use of them. We should be able to act upon our own purpose, following our own instincts, taking into consideration guidelines from the ones who had did it before and seize that moment that will allow us to shine. We often get misled by immediate succes of the people around us and we often wish for it more than working on our own growth in pursuing our own goal. We forget to enjoy the journey towards it (which will build our very own pedestal so that when worse comes to worst, our foundation is sturdy enough if things get shaken a little bit.). We should learn to trust ourselves, be at our best so that we’re always ready to take up a challenge anytime. Some people get dismantled when challenges catch them unprepared because they are not able to figure out their own selves or that they were too lazy to learn and rediscover themselves.

  • Marc and Angel, you have given me the courage to make a life changing decision, you have touched my life through this medium. I wish you so much happiness in life.

  • There’s nothing I could possibly add to this truly AMAZING post. You covered all the sides that need to be covered. I was nodding since I began reading, because each word is placed perfectly where it supposed to be… I want to thank you so much for these impeccable words, much love.

  • I think the hardest survival issue I had to learn was kindness; not to translate the brutal abuses I suffered as a child back into the world. It was difficult to turn around a life of battery, murder attempts, young homeless, neglect and abandonment (emotionally, far earlier than the young physical abandonment of both my parents). To stay in love with God was easy. I have always known Him but admittedly, at one point gave up that He cared for me.

  • I’m going to bookmark this post so that I can read this article at least once daily. Thank you for this article.

  • Thank you so much for the amazing and encouraging articles you guys are posting. Am looking forward to buying your book and will keep on reading your articles more often. It has really changed my life. May God bless you for the work you are doing.

  • “Take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK… maybe not today, but eventually. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. You might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. Sure the sun stops shining sometimes, and you may get a huge thunderstorm or two, but eventually the sun will come out to shine. Sometimes it’s just a matter of us staying as positive as possible in order to make it to see the sunshine break through the clouds again.”

    Going through some tough times and this is definitely on point. I enjoy your blogs a lot and you two helps me get through harsh days. Thanks for keeping it positive. Happy Friday!

  • Sadly, I am absent from my granddaughters life right now by my daughters choice. She and our son in law have told us that we have no value in their lives & have asked us “what’s in it for them?” Since I lost my career and a huge chunk of income, we can no longer afford to do things we once used to with “gifts” and they do not view the little “everyday” gifts with any value, you know the ones from the heart not from the wallet. We’ve already missed her 3rd birthday & many holidays. There is no communication at all. We’ve been tossed away like garbage though once used over and over. We hope one day, our granddaughter will come find us and ask us for our truth in all of this.

    Till then this harsh reality may just kill me with my broken heart. I know that it’s not all entirely me. I know I’m growing in some way. And I’ve said my apologies, I’ve asked for forgiveness and I have forgiven them.

  • The only thing I would add is: Love and attachment are two completely different things that feel almost the same!

  • Thank you.
    Challenges do create opportunities to grow. I’ve had more than can be listed here over the past three years. The positive attitude I have grown to cherish becomes more persistent over time and my gratitude list has changed from things to the blessings of being alive today.

    Sometimes we must remove ourselves from people we love because our presence is their biggest trigger to deeper problems they are not ready to, or able to, face. Staying made the anger and violence escalate. Leaving removes at least one of the biggest excuses to ignore the deeper issues. I grew in the sense my own desires were replaced with love. Love enough to let go. Faith enough to move on without an assurance I would have a place to stay.

    Letting go of the desire to see change in the world. Growing by changing myself.

    The long term health challenges I have had have impacted my ability to support myself. This challenge has helped me grow more trusting of the universe and less dependent on the ‘things’ I once took for granted and no longer can afford to have in my life. The most important things are free.


  • Thank you for this article. It answered everything that i was praying for and needing guidance with.

  • What a wonderful piece of writing. Number 8 is one that I have struggled with. After reading your point, I can see this is exactly where I am. And I am understanding the benefit of letting them go and realising the space they leave is one you can grow in as you are free from the sorry they caused you, or you allowed them to cause. Great blog!

  • Two things from this post really hit home for me: What’s done is done, but life goes on AND You will always have less control than you desire. One thing I would add to the list is “this too shall pass.” Because as much as I understand that what’s done is done and life goes on, and as much as I understand that I have less control than I desire in life, when things happen that cause me pain, I’m still going to feel pain. What’s done is done is a logical incarnation. And so is understanding that I’ll always have less control than I desire. My logical mind gets this and reading this post and understanding it helps me logically stomach these harsh realities. But emotionally, I still feel the pain until the pain goes away. And eventually the pain does go away and I get over it. But it takes time. I’m not sure why it takes time, but it does.

    Research has shown that when you experience a tragic event, there are chemicals in your brain that are released that cause you psychological distress.
    I once read a study that claimed that people that suffer from anxiety or depression or a variety of psychological ailments do not clear their mind of these chemicals as quickly as “others” These chemicals just linger for longer. I’m not sure if that research is correct, but that’s certainly what it feels like for me: the event happens, I accept it logically, but those damn “fight or flight” chemicals in my brain seem to just stick around until they wear off — and I’m at the mercy of them until they do wear off.

    The other thing that postpones getting over my pain is regurgitation. I tend to replay negative events in my head and relive the event over and over again. The first part of getting over something is to stop playing it in your mind. I find that I just play it over and over in my mind until it no longer causes me pain or I just learn to accept it. But it would be far easier to just take the lesson learned and move on instead of beating myself up over spilled milk.

  • What beautiful and comforting words! My life has been about dysfunctional family ties, painful scapegoating, learning this late in life to finally let them go because they were never mine and never truly wanted me in the first place. Now i can fly, I have an amazing husband who stuck by me and my love for rescuing animals has saved me more than you would ever know. I’ve redefined my life and my boundaries.

    Sad that I’ve had to go to nasty lengths sometimes to shake up the muck to let it leave me, but to hold on and know that I forgive them and I forgive myself is powerful and in my faith I am free.

    Thank you once again for what you do!

  • God, I love you both for your insight on life.

    I’ve read this article before but apparently needed to read it again. It came up on my facebook feed and man, it just so hits home. I lost my job a few months ago because my position was being eliminated. This after being there 10 years and being told on the morning of my 10th anniversary. The job ended, life moved on then a few weeks ago, my job, same title and all, shows up on Indeed. The feeling of anger and frustration started all over again. It’s been sticking with me and hard to shake, especially finding out a co-worker had a lot to do with it, all the while acting supportive.

    This line among so many helped me so much today:
    ‘The greatest miracle of your success in life will not be that you finished, it will be that you found the strength and courage to begin.’ - thanks for that. I needed that today and most every day.

    May life bless you as you continue this work. You touch so many peoples life with your words. I personally just wanted to express my appreciation.

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